Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bullets & Octane and The Panic Channel

Shows at smaller venues can either be totally awesome experiences or they can be shallow impersonations of mid-sized venue performances. It really depends upon the crowd and how the band works with the crowd. When The Panic Channel came to the Fine Line in Minneapolis with Bullets and Octane in tow, the two bands were confronted with the small venue dilemma and the two bands handled it in two very different ways.

On first was Bullets and Octane. I could have sworn that when they stepped out on stage I had been transported to the late 80’s metal scene. All four members of B&O came dressed in what could easily have been the wardrobe of late Motley Crue or Guns N Roses. They were totally decked out in their “rock out with your cock out” garb. And you know what? It suited them perfectly.

B&O play a very dirty brand of punk influenced rock and roll. Had they have come into being in the early 90’s, they very well could have revolutionized the scene. As it is with their current existence, they are an anomaly in the overwhelming flood of scene bands littering today’s live venues.

For the 45 minutes that B&O played, they worked the small, reserved crowd in the best way possible—they got involved with them. Instead of yelling at the crowd to mosh or move around or clap their hands, which never works with a small crowd and simply makes the band look like a group of ass clowns, Gene got down off the stage and walked around in the crowd, talking with those that were there, making the performance all the more personal.

When they were playing, they were into it. There’s nothing fake about their performance. It’s full-on, full-strength, full-speed, kick you in the teeth rock. They put on the type of performance that should be gracing sold out clubs and mid-size venues, not spent on a bunch of yuppie middle classers who are at the bar more for drinks than the band.

I knew well before The Panic Channel took the stage that there was no way they could outdo the energetic and rowdy performance of B&O. Now I hadn’t heard anything by The Panic Channel before the show (I was obviously there to see B&O), so I didn’t know what to expect. I figured since three of the guys were formerly in Jane’s Addiction that it would sound something similar to JA's alternative sound, but instead it was a pretty basic hard rock performance.

After the show I checked out the few songs that The Panic Channel had up on their website and I will say this much, they sound a hell of a lot better live than on tape. The songs they have up on MySpace and their website all sound like generic, radio-rock, uninspired muck. Then again, their performance was not all that phenomenal either.

Dave Navarro can still solo quite well, although some of his choices for guitar melodies and passages seem to be underwhelming and forced. Stephen Perkins, as usual, destroys on the drums. It’s too bad that he’s somewhat underutilized. Chris Chaney is also fun as hell to watch playing bass. He adds a lot to many of the songs in a live environment.

Then there’s Steve Isaacs… who looks like he’s totally uncomfortable in his own skin. Perkins, Navarro, and Chaney all have a lot of experience under their belts and it is very apparent that Isaacs is quite new to this whole putting on a performance bit. He sang his vocals fine and played rhythm guitar fine, but he just looked out of place when compared to the other three.

The majority of their performance was pretty average up until the end of the show when they reached both their respective high and low. Before their final song, they broke into an acoustic, sit down session that killed what little energy the crowd already had. The song they played felt basic and blasé. Thankfully, once they finished it off, they ripped into their finale, which was a cover of Led Zepplin’s “Dazed and Confused”. I really feared that they would butcher the hell out of the song, but they did a remarkable job in covering it well.

When this tour hits your town make sure to get to the show early to see Bullets and Octane. They’re worth every penny you’ll pay to get in. Feel free to leave once they are done, however, unless you got time to kill because there’s probably better things you could be doing than watching The Panic Channel.

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